By Jasmine Anderson
Leading a busy life and running on a tight schedule often makes us order food instead of cooking at home. And that is a perfectly reasonable thing to do. Cooking can sometimes be tiring and time-consuming. However, these 11 tips will show you how to make it easier and more fun to cook more at home. Try these tips out with your friends, partner or family and you’ll soon come to love all cooking activities.
Start with easy recipes
This tip is especially important for beginners. Searching recipes and finding out that you need tons of different ingredients and spices can seem very overwhelming. That is why it can be very helpful to start with simple and easily accessible recipes. A great start for beginners is trying one-pan and one-pot meals. This minimalistic approach is the best one for solo cooking. You simply choose a recipe that doesn’t have multiple steps but is rather simplistic and straight forward. You can start with sheet pan recipes. Just make sure you season your food right and pretty much anything you throw on a sheet pan can be cooked properly.
Apart from that, choosing to cook simple meals instead of more complex ones will help you save time after the cooking is done. After finishing the whole process of cooking a complex meal, the last thing you want is to spend another hour cleaning all the mess that is left behind. With one-pot meals, you won’t have a pile of dishes that you’ll need to wash right after making a meal. All you need is one pot and one serving plate. Your cleaning process will be made much easier.
Another great idea, aside from trying sheet pan recipes, is to try making easy and healthy dinner with lentils. Lentils contain high amounts of Vitamin B, magnesium, potassium, and iron. One of the easiest meals you can make with lentils is red lentil soup.
Organise your grocery shopping in advance
The next best thing you can do is to come up with recipes you would like to cook for the next week and then organise your shopping in advance. You can look for interesting recipes online or use a cookbook. Decide what recipes you are going to make and then simply write a list of ingredients you will need. This way, once you go grocery shopping, you will know exactly what you need.
You can also organise the foods and ingredients you need in categories or groups. For instance, you can make groups for veggies, fruits, nuts, dairy, and so on. By doing so, you will ensure that your shopping trips go smoothly and quickly. Also, make sure you get the right amount of ingredients for the meals that you plan on making. Don’t buy more than you need. This way you can prevent creating unnecessary food waste.
Meal prep is your best friend
Once you’ve bought all the ingredients that you need, you can start cooking. If you run on tight schedule throughout the week, then try meal prepping. On a Sunday evening, take some time to cook all of the meals for the upcoming week and store them in the fridge. That way, when you’re on your way to your job, you can simply rely on your meal prep and take your already made lunch with you.
Try grocery delivery
Food shopping can often be very tiring and time-consuming. It takes patience to walk around looking for what you need and then be greeted by a huge line at the cash register. That is why grocery delivery is the future of grocery shopping. Once you try it, you will wonder why you ever wasted your time waiting in lines at the grocery store. This way of grocery shopping will save you a lot of time. Many delivery apps can get fresh foods straight to your doorstep. It’s simple as that.
Cook for others
Practice makes perfect. That applies to cooking as well. For that reason, cooking for others can be very helpful and useful to you. If you live with your family or roommates, offer to cook dinner or lunch from time to time. Experiment and try different things. You can have feedback from your friends or family and ask them what they think you can improve your cooking. On the other hand, if you live alone, you can still invite your friends over for dinner and prepare something nice for them. If your friends are more advanced at cooking than you, you can ask them for advice. They can show you tips and tricks and you can learn something new. Just keep practising. It’s never going to be perfect on the first try, but the more you cook, the better you will be.
Enlist the right equipment
Finding the right equipment, tools, and kitchen knives makes it much more effective and fun for meal planning and cooking. Consider investing in a decent chef’s knife and you will be shocked by how much easier it will be for you to cut and slice (not to mention that working with a sharp blade is much safer). In addition to finding the right equipment for cooking, cutting, and so on, you need to properly equip your kitchen so that it is a safe environment for cooking activities. Make sure you have your cooking gloves, kitchen floor mats, and hairnet to make sure both you and the food you are cooking are safe and protected.
Buy pre-mixed spice blends and sauces
If you’re new to cooking, using tested spices may feel like an easier option. You simply put the seasoning that you always do. That’s a safe choice. Sometimes learning about all these different kinds of seasonings can be very overwhelming, so it’s reasonable why you would opt for simple and safe choices. However, you can get bored with the same spices you use every day and that is why trying something new every once in a while is advisable. If you want to learn more about spices and experiment with them more, the best way to start doing so by buying pre-mixed spice blends and sauces. That way, you can make some of the simplest meals like chicken breast and broccoli into an exotic meal with rich flavour.
Prep larger portions
Cooking big portions can also help you a lot. Whenever you use a recipe, try to make a double or triple of what the recipe says. This way, even if you don’t have enough time to cook for a few days, you will still have prepared meals. You can also modify these meals each day by adding something different each day or making a quick side salad.
Cooking with friends or family can be fun. You and your friends can organise cook-offs, and as for your family, this is a great chance for you to teach your kids how to handle simple activities like tearing greens, mixing things, or mashing the potatoes. If everything else fails, by pouring a bottle of wine, you can still lure your friends and family into at least amusing you with tales as you cook dinner.
Learn how to make what you’re craving
We all have those times when we crave specific foods. You probably also have certain foods that you tend to crave from time to time. Is it steak, lasagne, or maybe Chinese food? No matter what it is that you crave on special occasions, it’s always useful to know how to cook those meals. Google the recipes of your favourite meals and even write them down somewhere so that you have them in handy when you need them. Then, simply practice making those meals until you perfect them. This way, when you’re craving those foods, you can make them yourself.
Start treating cooking-in like the standard, and dining out as a luxury
Dining out used to be a rare and special occasion. Everyone would dress up, we would have to make reservations some time ahead, and everyone would be looking forward to it for months. Nowadays, the concept of dining out almost every day became normalised. That is usually how you end up spending a lot of unnecessary money and not cooking at home like you planned to.
That is why you need to start perceiving dining out as more of a luxury and treat. Look at it as something that should be left for special occasions. For a week-long experiment, maybe take this mentality on. Cook at home all of your weekday meals, and treat yourself with a nice weekend dinner out. Maybe it would make you relish it all the more.
In conclusion, cooking may seem intimidating and overwhelming. It seems as if there are too many things you need to remember and don’t even get me started on the spices. However, if done with friends and family, cooking can become quite entertaining and you can learn a lot while having fun. Follow these useful tips and you’ll soon be a pro.